Yesterday I went on a ride organized by one of the people of the BikePgh message board (ejwme). We met at the dinosaur outside the Carnegie Institute, seven of us. I took a picture of everyone there (and another one at the end). Of course not everybody appears in both pictures.
ejwme had a route planned, the goal of which was to hit recent improvements in the city's bike infrastructure. We began by going up Forbes and climbed the hill to Squirrel Hill. This showed that we had three types of riders: the "front pack" that made it to the top without much effort, the middle pack that struggled with the grade (about 4-5%, I think) but still managed to ride all the way, and the walkers who knew enough to dismount and just push their bikes up the hill.
We proceeded along Forbes, through the business district and on to Beechwood, turning left and going down to Wilkins, then down to Dallas. We were following recently marked bike lanes and sharrows. It struck me that the first part of our ride, Carnegie Inst to Margaret Morrison didn't have sharrows or lanes; yet this is a rather busy cycling corridor... Anyway we rode down to Hamilton, down to the ELB and up to Highland Avenue. We stopped at the Tasa d'Oro and to warm up I bought myself a hot tea (which, ironically, was too hot to drink). We got to chat a bit, then up to the Park and down to Stanton, turning left at Collins to get back to the ELB. I ended up in front but when I looked back at the next light nobody was behind me. Hmm. I did a quick loop around the block by way of Broad; still nobody. Fortunately they were further up on the ELB and I caught up to them by Hamilton. At Penn we got honked out by some woman in an SUV; I tried to talk to her but she insisted that we should not be taking up a lane. It was a bit hard to piece together her monologue, as her window was down for only part of it. Sigh.
ejwme wanted to see the fabled North-East Passage, and so we headed that way. Stu, unfortunately, managed to get caught in the sinkhole next to the fire hydrant, but made it out ok. Next up was Mellon Park, including a stretch of brick road, then on to Reynolds, with its steep little block up to Linden.
Frick Park at the Museum next, and a ride along the upper trail to reach Braddock. People were getting tired and some ended up walking the last stretch up to Dallas (as well as the next bit up to Beechwood). At this point the group decided no more hills, so we followed Forbes to Murray, then Woodmont, Negley, Solway, Wightman to Wilkins and down Beeler. Cutting through CMU got us back to the Carnegie, and the end of the ride. A bit over 14 miles.
Overall this was a fun ride. I got to match some faces to names and chat a bit (though I can't say I really got to know anybody). The Flock Ride is supposed to be easy going and open to all riders. Somehow I had expected (given the cold) that only the more resolute cyclists would show up. I guess that the former was the case, but I was still surprised that people were having problems with the hills (which after all are impossible to avoid around here).
I'm also wondering if I'd be able to float a group ride to hit the hills on the north side ("Tour the Reservoirs", if you will). It would be a short one (25-30 min) but would push riders on the climbing (well, at least me).